Editorial: Romney's 'victims': Harsh words on Americans who get federal benefits
The coarse view expressed in May by Republican Mitt Romney about nearly half of all Americans was shocking to hear from a presidential nominee, and it raises questions about him and his campaign.
The comments came in a video released this week by Mother Jones magazine that showed Mr. Romney telling an audience of wealthy donors at a spring fundraiser that almost half of all Americans "believe they are victims" who deserve government support and that, as a presidential candidate, "my job is not to worry about these people."
Concerned about the impact that the videotaped remarks would have on the race with President Barack Obama, Mr. Romney called a news conference Monday and told reporters that his "off the cuff" comments were not "elegantly stated."
What Mr. Romney's words seemed to reveal, however, was the disrespect of a rich man for people who -- according to him -- are dependent to some extent on government support. According to Mr. Romney, "There are 47 percent who are with [Mr. Obama], who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it." He added that the 47 percent pay no income tax and "will vote for the president no matter what."
This offensive opinion, coupled with growing reports of dissension within his campaign, have to make voters wonder what is going on.
The many Americans who receive help from the federal government in the form of Social Security and Medicare (which they help fund through payroll taxes), veterans' benefits (which they often win through service on the battlefield), college loans, food stamps or other support do not necessarily consider themselves "victims" who want a life of government dependence. Nor will they automatically vote for the president. Some of them were probably Romney supporters until they were insulted by his remarks.
Whatever the thinking behind the opinion, it was appalling to hear from a major-party presidential nominee.
First Published September 19, 2012 12:00 am